Waste costs pile up

Carly Whitington with the mess left over from SKM.

By Tate Papworth

Waste company Cleanaway may have bought recycler SKM, but tens of thousands of tonnes of discarded waste still lies in factories across Derrimut, Sunshine, Laverton and Campbellfield and owners are none the wiser as to what to do with it.

SKM collapsed in July, owing tens of millions of dollars.

The collapse forced a number of councils, including Brimbank, to divert kerbside recycling material to landfill.

Carly Whitington with the mess left over from SKM.

Cleanaway now intends to resume kerbside services, but that doesn’t solve the problem festering in suburban factories.

Marwood Construction project manager Carly Whitington said they have no idea what to do with the 10,000 tonnes of discarded recyclable material they’ve inherited at their Derrimut warehouse.

“With the news that Cleanaway has purchased the failed SKM enterprise, we were in the hope that Cleanaway would come and rectify the left behind issue, but we’ve been advised that’s not the case,” Ms Whitington said.

“Basically what we’re trying to do is liaise with the government to see if there can be some subsidy or deal … come to an agreement about us transporting this material to the Cleanaway site on Gilbertson Road and having it recycled.

“They haven’t got any answers for us yet, which they haven’t for quite a while. We’re waiting for some form of resolution because we need to do something with it.”

The warehouse has been left filled with unwanted waste.

She called on the state government to end the state of limbo.

“We met with the Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio. We met with some of her associates as well, but there hasn’t been a yes or a no.

“I’ve even contacted a representative and said if it’s a no, just tell us it’s a no and we’ll walk away. If you are going to help us in some sort of respect, tell us, give us a time, don’t just leave us in limbo. Because that’s where we are at the moment. We’ve been left with this for two to three months since the collapse and we don’t know what to do with it.”

Ms Whitington estimated the company was already out of pocket $500,000 on lost rent and would have to find close to $2 million to clean the warehouse.

“It surprises me that the government isn’t taking a proactive approach to this,” she said. “People are going to be looking at this and thinking ‘why am I bothering recycling’.

Owners say they have received no help in removing the mess.